As women, we’re often left feeling so frustrated because we’re constantly having to take on too much at home and work. But I want to ask you this: are you feeling frustrated because you’re being given too much to do, or are you frustrated because you don’t know how to stand in your power?
If I had to guess, it’s the latter.
You are not alone in this. So many times, we’ve been taught to be nice, to be accommodating, to put ourselves last. I used to do that myself, and found myself so caught up in a crazy busy life that I felt burned out, exhausted, frustrated, and completely overwhelmed all of the time. You do not have to live like this, and I’m going to show you five ways you can stand in your power.
Stop Using Words that Undermine Your Message
“But I just…” “I think that…” “Does that make sense?” “I might be wrong, but…”
Words and phrases like these weaken the delivery of what you want to say. It doesn’t matter how much you know about what you’re saying or how passionately you feel about it. When you use words like this that ask permission or show a lack of confidence, they destroy your otherwise well-crafted presentation completely.
When you catch yourself saying phrases like these, be mindful of how they’re undermining your authority. Pause. Take a moment to think about what it is that needs to be said. Then deliver your verbal or written message without the fluff.
By cutting out these undermining phrases, you’re showing more confidence in yourself with your family, friends, and colleagues. They will, in turn, feel more confidence in you because you’ve shown that you believe in yourself.
Set Boundaries and Don’t Explain Further
When you learn not to undermine yourself with words, when you set boundaries, you will become more credible. People will believe that you mean what you have to say, and will be less likely to try and wear you down to get what they want.
When you say no, and then explain why you can’t do the thing you’re being asked or volunteered to do, you’re giving away your power. Rather than make an excuse about an outside force preventing you from helping, say, “I can’t today,” or “I don’t have the bandwidth today, but I have time next week.”
Boundaries go beyond doing things you don’t want to do, though. They can also apply to conversations and relationships. For example, with that argumentative coworker who wants to prove they’re right all the time, be direct about your intention and say, “I’m not willing to argue with you about this,” or “I don’t deserve to be spoken to like this.” And then move on without further argument.
When somebody becomes upset that you’ve set a boundary, it’s a good reminder of why you need that boundary in the first place.
Quit Putting Yourself at the Bottom of Your To-Do List
As women, we’re caregivers at home and work, and have been taught to be in charge of everyone’s happiness…except for our own. As moms, we give up our own downtime and self-care to take care of our children and all the things they need to do. As partners, we work so hard to support our significant others. As successful businesswomen, we run ourselves into the ground, trying to prove our worth to our colleagues and clients.
I learned that when I put myself first and took care of my needs first that I was so much better at home and work. I became even more successful because instead of depleting my own well to fill others’ wells, I was able to give the right amount of energy where it was needed. And when I made my own joy a priority, I was so much better equipped to handle my to-do list, stressors, and the unexpected.
Make your happiness a priority. I don’t care how insignificant your happiness to-do list might feel. You are important. Your happiness is important. And when you believe this and act on it, everyone else will see you as important, too.
Stop Making Excuses for Bad Behavior
When is the last time you caught yourself making an excuse for somebody’s bad behavior? Whether you justified it internally or to somebody else, the excuses justify toxic behavior and teach you to feel okay with settling for less. You are not accountable for everybody else’s actions. You have no responsibility to justify how they’re acting or act as a buffer to others.
But what happens when you’re the one with the bad behavior? You should hold others accountable for their actions (or lack thereof), but when you hold yourself accountable, you’re giving yourself so much power. You’re taking responsibility for the words you speak and the actions you take, and you’re being honest with yourself and others.
You are showing that you’re in control of yourself, rather than deflecting everything that goes wrong in your life on somebody or something else.
Not Everybody Has to Like You
Raise your hand if you were taught that you have to be nice. As little girls, we were taught that much of our value lies in how many people like us, as well as who likes us. We’re taught that our worth is connected to our appearance, how much we smile, how accommodating we are, and the list goes on and on. But liking is not the same thing as respecting.
Repeat after me: I can be respected without having to make sure everyone around me is happy.
When you’re overly polite and too accommodating, you’re giving up the things you want so that others can have what they want. You’re undermining your worth and giving others permission to take what they need from you. The truth is, not everybody has to like you. In fact, people may decide they don’t like you when you make the shift to valuing yourself more. But at the end of the day, what matters the most is that you like you.
Some Final Thoughts
None of these shifts are easy. They take work on your part, and the willingness to transform relationships with the people in your life. But ultimately, when you enable yourself to stand in your power, your life is going to be so much easier. You’ll communicate better. You’ll have healthy boundaries set. You’ll have time for yourself. You’ll hold yourself and others accountable. And you’ll like yourself better.
These changes will help you form healthier, stronger relationships at work, at home, and in your circle of friends. When you catch yourself falling into these undermining behaviors, remember to pause, think about how you can empower yourself, and act on your intention.
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